Market Doctor, an innovative healthcare provider that sets up clinics around clustered markets in the country has emerged the overall winner of the inaugural edition of the grants competition organized during the Fidelity SME Funding event of Wednesday August 7, 2019, carting away the corresponding N2 million cash prize. An initial 12 finalists emerged from more than 2,500 successful applicants who went through a rigorous and intensive selection process conducted by the renowned accounting and consultancy firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
The number was further cut down to 5 after another round of assessment and they were made to pitch to panel of judges during the SME Funding event. The independent judges led by Professor Yinka David-West of the Lagos Business School, pronounced Market Doctor winner, in consideration of the profitability, viability, and scalability of her business model. “We are thrilled to receive this grant by Fidelity Bank to scale our business and improve the wellbeing of Nigerians” said an elated Miss Yetunde Ayo-Oyalowo, Founder Market Doctor. She carted home the N2m cash prize . Healthy Nellies, a food production firm and Greenhill Recycling who emerged first and second runner up, respectively took home the sum of N1 million each. Other finalists include Adeyinka Tekenah of ‘Happy Coffee’ and Olalekan Afolayan of ‘PackMyLoad.com’ who smiled home consolation prizes of N500,000 each, whilst the remaining 7 shortlisted SMEs received N200,000 each.
Fidelity Bank CEO, Nnamdi Okonkwo, who commended the winners of the competition emphasized the importance of Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to the growth and development of the Nigerian economy. “MSMEs employ over 80 percent of the country’s total 90.5 million labour force, contribute 48 percent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and constitute over 80 percent of registered exporters in Nigeria”, said Okonkwo.
The grants competition was the highlight of the SME Funding conference themed “Entrepreneurship Meets Capital” and organized by the bank to deepen the conversation on funding by bringing together small business owners, model entrepreneurs, fund providers, angel investors, private equity firms, venture capitalists under one roof. Whilst noting that the MSME sector remained largely bedeviled by a number of problems with limited financing options being one of the main drawbacks they face, the Fidelity boss said it was important for the bank as “one of the best SME-friendly banks to come up with the initiative in furtherance of our support for the sector because of its contribution to economic development and poverty eradication”
The Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat while delivering his keynote address on the occasion, commended the bank for the initiative. Emphasizing the importance of SMEs to economic development, Hamzat pointed out that small businesses contribute to employment creation, poverty alleviation and revenue generation. “What Fidelity Bank is doing is to create access to capital, which is the biggest threat to MSMEs. He advised financial institutions to borrow a leaf from Fidelity Bank. “The Lagos State Government is ready to create the enabling environment for the MSMEs to thrive”, he added.
Other highlights include the unveiling of two new products for small businesses namely; Fidelity Business Plus Account and Fidelity Trader Support Facility by the bank as well as the networking opportunities provided by the small business owners to pitch their business to potential investors such as Sahel Capital Ventures, Verod Capital, African Capital Alliance, and Renaissance Capital. “ One of the remarkable things about this our initiative is that we were able to bring small business owners and funds providers, model investors, private equity firms, Venture Capitals and Angel Investors worth over $1 billion together in one roof. Truly remarkable!” said Mr. Osaigbovo Omorogbe, Divisional Head, Managed SMEs Fidelity Bank.
Obi Ezeude, Founder/CEO of Beloxxi Industries, Mo Abudu, CEO, Ebonylife TV, Akindele Phillips, Co-Founder, Farm Crowdy, Dr. Richard Ajayi, CEO, The Bridge Clinic, Seun Abolaji, CEO, Wilsons Juice, CEO and Adetayo Bamiduro, Co-founder, MAX Okada, Dayo Akinpelu, VP Renaissance Capital, Toyin Adeniji, ED Bank of Industries, Bonaventure Okhaimo, COO Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), Dr. Mudashiru Olaitan, Director Development Finance (CBN) and Mezuo Nwunneli, Managing Partner Sahel Capital amongst others, were some of the panelists in the engaging sessions.